Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Which Comes First?

No, this isn't about chickens and eggs. Something I heard the other day made me think. I know that can be a dangerous thing, but here goes.

"Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet." I heard this line from Thomas Watson quoted in a sermon I heard on television. I understand the thinking behind this statement. We must realize our need of Jesus before we turn to him. The more we realize just what Christ has done for us, the more wonderful God's grace will become to us. I believe that there is the danger of this teching being abused. I have been in churches, and heard stories of those in churches where the bitterness of sin was preached and hammered into the people to the point where they were beaten down and left with the idea that they were totally worthless pieces of trash.

I wonder though, if there isn't another way of looking at the bitterness of sin and the sweetness of Christ. When I look at Jesus' time here on earth, I see one who interacted with people where they were, and did not throw their sin in their faces (except for the religious ones who thought they had it all together). When "sinners" saw Jesus, they saw someone who loved them and cared about their day-to-day, not a stern judge who condemned them. Seeing the love and grace of this beautiful one led them to the point where they turned from their sin and followed him. Zacchaeus and the woman who anointed Jesus' feet are just two examples. Romans 2:4 states that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance.

If we hammer at people's sin without showing them the beauty of Christ, we produce folks who know they are sinful and get depressed about it, folks who try their hardest to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps," or folks who turn away from God altogether. If we can get across to others that Jesus is the most wonderful, beautiful Savior, who has done for us what we can't do for ourselves. Yes we are great sinners. But, there is a great Savior. Instead of trying to make sin more ugly, how about if we made Christ more beautiful, by our words and actions.

How about if we said, "As Christ becomes sweeter, sin becomes more bitter." Or as the hymn writer put it, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

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